Something you've always wanted to know but never dared ask? Look here for the answers.
A. Many of the fixed costs of a bottle of wine are the same, (cork, capsule, label, carton etc), so in effect, when you spend more, you should actually be paying for the enhanced quality of the wine. At Adnams, we seek out winegrowers whose aim is to crop their vines at lower yields which increases the intrinsic quality of their wines, but with the end result that the grower has less wine to sell, and has therefore to charge a little more to make a living out of fewer bottles.
A. As a rule, cooler than you thought! Red wine served at current room temperature is too warm. The Victorians could get away with this rule of thumb, but with the advent of central heating, we have all got into bad habits and our reds are served too warm. Put Beaujolais and powerful Australian Grenaches in the fridge for 45 minutes; Pinot Noir and Claret are best served at a cool cellar temperature - around 16 degrees. As it warms up, the aromas and freshness all too quickly start to dissipate.
A. Yes. Particularly the aromatic varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Muscat etc, as well as Beaujolais and junior Pinot Noir and Grenache. These are all wines that should be drunk relatively young, where the influence of cork on the wine is not necessary or beneficial. Grander wines will continue to have corks, which influence their development, but screw caps have very quickly become an acceptable form of 'closure'. Swallow any prejudices you may have - along with enlightened growers' wines! This is tomorrow's technology today.
A. There is a lot of hot-air expended on the subject of matching food and wine - and very little of it seems to de-mystify the subject. If you like claret with your bacon sandwich, fine! I happen to prefer Chianti; but it is really up to you. Red wine doe not go famously well with fish, but I have drunk New World Pinot Noir with a rare cooked, fresh tuna steak - which was fabulous. White wine can be lost on a well hung haunch of venison, but old style white Rioja might just suit you; it does me. So, I continue to believe that the answer is to experiment.
A. Old World wines, as a rule, tend to accompany food better, although we know plenty of Californians and Antipodeans who would argue this point! Because they are more harmonious, with natural acidity and tannins and are less 'fruit-driven', what Europe has been honing for the past couple of centuries to go with food, does just that. What the New World brings to our lives, are wines for quaffing - with or without food, but where food is possibly an incidental, and where the wine is chosen not to be too challenging.
A. Oak barrels play a major role in the ageing and development of red and white wines. Both French and American oak are used, the latter imparting a sweeter coconut character than the former. Some wineries will put a certain percentage in new oak, as well as in barrels that are, maybe, two, three or more years old. This new oak imparts a coconut, spicy, biscuity element to the wine, whilst any time in barrel, either new or old, allows the wine to start to oxidise marginally, which is part of the process of maturation.
A. A resounding yes! is the answer to this oft asked question. Pour any young wine, red or white, into a jug, and then pour it back into the bottle. This will aerate it, and release all of the aromas and flavours. It will make a £5 bottle taste like a wine twice its price. There is, however, one exception to this rule. If the bottle in question is very old, the wine at this late stage in its life may just 'fall apart' if aerated in this manner. Make sure that any ancient bottle has been stood upright long enough to allow any sediment to settle, so you can pour from the bottle straight into the glass, without disturbing the deposit. If in doubt, telephone someone at Adnams Cellar & Kitchen!